If you're seeking a fun and faithful re-creation of one of the most challenging series in motorsports, then you need look no further than F1 2010. Although it may have some minor issues Codemasters' new franchise brings about a good start. The racing comes appropriately challenging, as you might expect, whilst speed is impressive, and with realistic re-creations of both cars and circuits as they race around them. If you're a fan of Formula 1 you'll experience great enjoyment out of the game, and the chances are you won't tire of it anytime soon, given the amazing challenges it offers, time trials, individual races, and a time consuming seven year career mode.
In fact, all the cars, teams and tracks, of the old Formula 1 season, are represented in F1 2010, and you'd be hard pressed to find fault with any of their re-creations. All is accurately reflected here; cloud cover, grandstands, overhanging track markers on the car chassis when playing in the cockpit: all this heightens the sense of immersion, despite the fact you might be too focused on the track to truly appreciate them. At the same time the tracks themselves are rendered impressively, yet it's ironic that when the situation becomes slightly obscured by rain the game's graphics begin to shine! Visibility alters when cars spray standing water into the air, and the racing line dries realistically as a result, with the rain on the camera mimicking the view from inside a racing helmet. It's details such as these that really illustrate F1 2010s visuals at their most impressive, and it can hardly be stated they have a noticeable impact on the gameplay. The audio works well too: you just have the spectacular roar of the engine with some dialogue on the radio to keep you company during the races, yet given the amount of concentration required going round the tracks, this is not a really bad thing.
F1 2010 is a racer whose mould is set constructively in the simulation camp. You can turn on a range of assists and aids, which the fully customisable difficulty settings allow you to do, but it must be said that the lack of tutorials makes launching into a season quite a daunting task if you're a newcomer to the world of simulation racing. But there's a credible modelling of things such as rainfall, tyre degradation, the drying and rubbering of tracks, which all add a good deal of detail to this deep and enjoyable simulation. And it must be said that the damage modelling is very impressive too. If you break a front wing, for example, you not only view a realistic impact on the car, losing sections of chassis in the process, but you immediately feel a loss of grip too. In fact, the damage modelling can be seen at its utmost when two racers ahead of you collide, for example, seeing parts of both vehicles exploding across the track - this can be recognised as a fairly common experience when you head into the first corner, or if less experienced drivers are overly ambitious in the wet, amphibian conditions.
However, if all your requirements, or ambitions, are to slide inside a car and race, then F1 2010 has you covered. You're able to create custom races in individual style or as part of a series - the decision is yours - with each lasting as little as one lap. Alternatively you can participate in time trials, this being a great way to familiarise yourself with the game's 19 tracks, or to take careful note of how your times compare with other plays on online leaderboards. But sometimes a meatier challenge is needed. If this is the case so custom Grand Prix can be set up to follow whole race weekends comprising full length races, or, if you wish, you can dive headlong into the game's extensive career mode.
As far as the track itself is concerned there is very little to complain about. The racing is fast, furious and realistic, opponent A1 is good on higher difficulties with the car handling changes when the races wear on is impressive. Let's give an example: it could be details such as the type of car you've opted to use - this making a significant difference - or even the fuel load in your car. And another thing: tyre wear is also modelled really well. For example you can see tyres starting to degrade in a realistic manner, with the handling of the car changing significantly and realistically as grit falls away, along with the surface of your tyres. Another pleasing touch is how grip is dependent on track position: whether it's a dry race with a well-rubbered racing line or a sheltered section of track not quite as wet as the remainder, you become rewarded for picking the correct line!
So whether you're skidding about the bus stop at Spa in the rain or tearing out of the Parabolica ready and willing to hit the pit straight in Monza, F1 2010 does a really fantastic job of re-creating the excitement and action of driving a Formula 1 car. Clearly there is still room for improvement, yet despite its occasional quarks, nuances, F1 2010 is a game which any fan of Formula 1 or simulation racing would do well to take for a spin.
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